The first time I heard about Street Parade (Striitpareid in Swiss German) was in my Swiss German class. It was listed in the ‘Holidays in Zurich’ section of our textbook, right next to Christmas, Sechseläuten, and Easter. That seemed wacky given that it is, at the end of the day, a giant outdoor rave. But I guess a tradition doesn’t have to be old to count as a holiday (this one has been around since 1992), and when you think about it, aren’t the costumes associated with other holidays (Santa suits, carnival costumes) just as silly as platform shoes and feather boas?
The description of this ‘holiday’ sounded suspiciously like something I had experienced years before while living in Berlin – the Love Parade. A little internet research reveals that the two are indeed related, as the guy who started the Street Parade got his inspiration from the Berlin version.
So as I mentioned, I went to the Love Parade once, many years ago. Apparently I was already an old woman in my early 20s, because I wasn’t that impressed. Sure the costumes were fun to see, but the techno music got old after about 5 minutes. The sun was pounding down on us all day, and the only beverages available were warm cans of beer being sold by some entrepreneurial types out of their clearly ineffective coolers. And standing in the middle of a crowd of a million people, being randomly smushed and moved along in no particular direction… well, less fun than it sounds.
The best part of the whole experience was the video made by a couple of my normally shy Swedish friends. Armed with a camcorder, they approached the ravers in the most outrageous costumes and asked if they could interview them for Swedish television. As the day went on (or I should say, as the beers went down), their ‘interview’ questions got bolder and weirder, and the resulting tape was a masterpiece that would unfortunately never reach a TV audience. A good title for it would have been ‘Everything you wanted to know about the man dressed up like a giant winged dildo but were afraid to ask.’
Anyway, back to the present. Given my memories of the Love Parade, I can’t say that I was thrilled to experience Zurich’s smaller-scale ‘demonstration in support of love, peace, freedom, generosity and tolerance,’ but I certainly wasn’t going to miss out on it, either. So we armed ourselves with the camera, bottles of water, and some rain gear (thundershowers were forecast for the entire day) and headed out. After all, according to my Swiss German textbook, go luege mues mer daa sälber!
To be continued…
(if you just can’t wait until tomorrow, you can go see more pictures here.)